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April Exhibitions Fuel Talk of Montreal MLB

Montreal ExposWith the annual Toronto Blue Jays exhibition series scheduled for next weekend, it’s time for the annual discussion of if or when Major League Baseball will return to Montreal, as Mayor Denis Coderre updates ballpark and ownership issues.

That Montreal is on top of the wish list for many in baseball isn’t a secret: MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has laid out a path for the sport to return to Montreal, and given that relocation or expansion could happen in the next decade, the odds are pretty good that Montreal will be given some serious consideration as a market. But before any serious discussions can happen, an ownership group and a ballpark plan must be in place. And nothing is going to happen any time soon: the Oakland Athletics ballpark situation is still in flux, and Manfred says expansion won’t be addressed until the MLB collective bargaining agreement is addressed by his office and the players union; it expires on Dec. 1, 2016.

Which is something Coderre knows all too well, as he revealed in meetings with the press in anticipation of next weekend’s Blue Jays/Boston Red Sox series at Olympic Stadium. The news? No news, although Coderre says discussions are happening behind the scenes. From the Montreal Gazette:

“It’s not because I’m not telling you everything that people aren’t talking,” Coderre said. “Don’t ask me to give you the status of our negotiations. You know, we have met, we have talked and there’s work that’s going on. There are steps to take.

“There’s serious work that’s being done. But we must take into account all the realities — infrastructure, investors, MLB’s plans — it’s not up to me to tell them how to do it.”

And part of that support means provincial and national government support — something that hasn’t yet been addressed, according to Coderre:

“Certainly we need a partnership, but I haven’t asked anything of Ottawa,” Coderre said. “You can’t look at this (the means of financing a stadium) like in the past. There are ways to work together.

“Resources don’t just mean money. … But we’re not ready to have this debate, because the fruit hasn’t ripened. We are not at that stage yet. But it’s been 30 years that I’ve been in politics; I know public opinion well enough to know when it will be ready for us to have this discussion.”

In other words: until there’s something tangible on the table — expansion, a declaration from an MLB team that they’re giving up on a new-ballpark effort — there won’t be much to report. Publicly, anyway.

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